When Joel Stockwell started his tenure as the Rock Island wrestling head coach, he remained confident in the program despite realizing success "was a long ways away."|
By the third year, the Rocks were champions.
As of Friday night, they established a dynasty.
For the third consecutive season, Rocky is the ruler of the Western Big 6 Conference with yet another dominating run. Convincing victories over Quincy (46-18) and Galesburg (74-6) at Don Morris Gym capped a three-year stretch in which the Rocks have won 19 consecutive league duals.
Rocky has not lost inside the Big 6 since Jan. 7, 2010.
"I don't know about a dynasty, but we've definitely got it going in the right direction," Stockwell said. "We have our tribulations just like everybody else. This season has been up and down on me, but we've done better than we thought we would."
Expressing concerns not long ago over a lineup that returned only three full-time starters and one state medalist from a season ago, Stockwell quietly had doubts the streak would continue this year.
A few months later, Rocky stood together for a team photo with each member holding three fingers in the air in what has become a tradition on the last Friday night of the season.
"I love it every time," said Rocky 138-pound senior Devin Syler, who pinned both of his opponents. "I love winning."
Not only did the Rocks earn two more wins, they answered a challenge Quincy issued three days earlier. After a lopsided win over Galesburg on Tuesday night, Quincy coach Phil Neally said Rocky was not the favorite and his team could win the league.
Instead, the Rocks won nine of the 14 bouts against the Blue Devils and secured 19 bonus points. Between 120 and 145 pounds, Rocky had four pins and a major decision.
"This proves we're the best," said Rocky 120-pound senior B.J. McGhee, who completed his second consecutive unblemished Big 6 run with two falls. "We were pumped up because we saw what Quincy said in that article (in the Quincy Herald-Whig). That made us more motivated. It made us want to come out and dominate."
Domination continued into the finale. Rocky won 13 bouts with bonus points in all 10 contested matches it won. Tyler Dehaven (126 pounds), Chase Wiggins (132), Jean-Louis Sawadago (145), J.T. Jones (152/160) and Nick Niles (220) each won two bouts for the Rocks.
In 70 league matches this season, Rocky won 50.
Not a bad way to cap a third consecutive Big 6 title.
"It's nice to have that behind you. It's a little intimidation factor," Stockwell said. "It's a good confidence builder for our kids."
Alleman falls twice: The Pioneers closed their Big 6 slate by falling to Galesburg (49-29) and Quincy (65-12). Ben West needed a total of 1:45 to get a pair of pins at 220 pounds. Max Rocha also won twice at 285.
Third-ranked Sean Wetherell opened with a technical fall before suffering a 3-1 loss to sixth-ranked Quincy senior Dakota Downs in the 170-pound bout.
"Each kid is where they need to be right now," Alleman coach James Ealy said. "I've seen growth out of every kid. ... We have some kids who can make some noise in the postseason."
Big 6 wrestling standings
Rock Island 5-0
Rock Island 46, Quincy 18
Galesburg 49, Alleman 29
Rock Island 74, Galesburg 6
Quincy 65, Alleman 12
Moline, Quincy, United Township at Galesburg, 11 a.m.
Port byron, IL Details
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